Thursday, January 25, 2007
I'm very selective about the people I let into my life. I know what kind of friend I am, how seriously I take the word and the obligation of friendship. I also know this is what attracts people to me who want only to feed off that which I am. I know the world is full of people who have issues, who have dramas, who are on paths that will eventually grow them into actualized human beings. I also know that I've put in my time helping some of those people walk that path at the expense of my own sanity at times, and that I will continue to do so.
But the years have also taught me to be selective as I told a new acquaintance. We were sharing a cup of tea on a cold rainy day. The conversation was wonderful with just that touch of danger an underlying attraction can take on. We agreed politically, mentally, about love and friendship and all the cornerstones that form a solid connection. When he left to go home I experienced a momentary sense of sadness that so much potential wouldn't be developed further.
He left angry. I won't see him again. It's a conscious choice I made the minute he started to talk about his marriage, his kids, his frustration with his job, the gray that was taking over his hair, his fantasy of just bagging it all and buying a motorcycle and traveling the world before it was too late.
In other words, he just told me that he was offering me the typical friendship a woman has with a man in his mid to late 40's...months of dependence on me every time something went bad at home or work, gratitude for listening without ever saying much in return, an intertwining of his life with mine so complete that all that was missing from a total bonding was the sex that would never be. (The reason for that is simple. I don't mess with married men. It's disrespectful to the women and there's always complications.)
Nothing is simple with a man, especially friendship. They are either actively hunting a mate, in the throes of raising children and therefore not available unless it involves "the children." Or they are about to go bat shit crazy starting in their early to mid-40's when the children become teenagers and their marriages start to tighten around their necks.
In the last few years I've let myself get caught, for the sake and honor of friendship, in the whirlpool that was created by these men experiencing all the typical symptoms of a full-blown mid-life crisis. It always starts the same way. The woman they've been with for a decade and more is suddenly dragging him down, making too many demands, stopped loving him, is gaining weight, and becoming boring. If it wasn't for her, there's so much he could do, but now it's too late and it's all her fault because SHE makes him unhappy. And the children hate him, want him only for money and expensive presents, and as a chauffeur if they aren't old enough to drive themselves.
Think I just know some strange people? Well, I do. But I'm not the only one. Many women have been stunned to hear out of nowhere that their husband of many years suddenly wants a divorce.
I've been on the other end of hysterical phone calls at least twice a year now for the last few years as I tried to explain to my distraught women friends that it wasn't all their fault, that maybe it wasn't even the man's fault, that they were just caught up in a psychological whirlpool so intense they couldn't fight their way out and survive.
Sadly, it usually does end in divorce and even though the men always swear the girlfriend came later, she was usually in the picture when things started to go crazy. She became a symbol of all that was wrong in their lives. She became the unattainable Goddess they could have if only if only if only. And worst of all, these men often do end up with the Goddess who ends up becoming their new wife. It takes about 18 months for love and lust to become ordinary. This is after maybe another child has been conceived or since she is always younger than him, she often brings young children into the new relationship.
And the man finds himself in the exact same situation he escaped from. But instead of the bliss, he often has less money because now he is supporting two families on the income that was barely enough for one family. He often goes from having teenagers to having infants and young children in the home. Instead of more freedom he suddenly has less. Most of these new relationships end within two years and the man is left with nothing. Two of my friends became suicidal. One ended up killing himself for, as he put it in his suicide note, "Throwing away a beautiful family and a wife who loved me."
So what has this to do with me and friendship with a man in his 40's? Actually, quite a bit. You see, as the Patron Saint of difficult people, I draw these fools to me like bear to honey. I start out with friends who are couples and end up with two friends who won't be in the same room with each other and who spend most of their time trying to make me take sides. If the friendship is solid enough, I'll risk it.
Why risk? Because in the end, I'll still have the woman as a friend. We'll still stay in touch frequently. We'll call each other all the time and share emails. At first I have this with the men too...until one day the calls stop coming, the emails go unanswered, the voicemail doesn't get returned. Then I know he has begun the next relationship and I cease to exist. I become insignificant, an annoyance, that friend who becomes an obligation whose call he must answer as he and his new love giggle privately as he rolls his eyes to take my call. I become part of his past, the friend of his ex, the one who knows how low he went and the throes of his despair. I know too much about him. It doesn't matter squat that I gave him the depths of my friendship, that I cancelled appointments because he needed to talk, that I listened to him for hours on end go on and on about stuff that was essentially boring and tedious and annoying because I'd heard it so often from men before him. My friendship didn't matter anymore than it matters to him that his wife gave him her life, her youth, love and support for all those years.
And that is why I am acquaintances with men in their 40's and save my deep heart connections for men who are at least in their 50's and have already gone through all that nonsense. I'm a good friend. I have a lot to give. And I don't believe in wasting anything, especially my time, my love, and especially my friendship.
So, he left mad. He'll probably call me in a few years and say, hey you know what? You were right. Let's meet for tea, and I'll happily agree. Maybe I'll even invite his ex to join us.
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